Myron, Dorcas, Bob, and Laura talked me into hiking on Sunday. Originally I had planned on backpacking Monday through Wednesday, but with Monday’s weather forecast looking nasty, I decided to rethink things. I pushed the backpack back to Tuesday. Since I wasn’t doing anything on Monday, I decided to get out of the house on Sunday.
Sunday’s forecast wasn’t exactly ideal, either, so we decided to keep it simple. We all met in Denton and headed over to the Uwharries. Our destination was the Birkhead Mountain Wilderness Area, which is a place that I hadn’t been to in several years. The Birkhead’s may be the best part of the Uwharries because it is an official wilderness area. Most of the Uwharries are heavily logged, but the Birkhead’s are protected.
We normally avoid the Uwharries in the fall, since they are the deer hunting capital of North Carolina. However, hunting is still illegal on Sunday’s in North Carolina, so we felt relatively safe.
We started the hike at a new trailhead. The Thornburg Trail starts off of NC route 1107 a few miles north of the Hannah Creek trailhead. The Thornburg property consists of an old farmhouse, as well as farm buildings and fields. Apparently the forest service purchased the property, or at least has some sort of easement. We began our hike there at 10:30, and walked past the farmhouse under heavy gray skies.
We wandered through a field before entering the forest. An ordinary walk in the woods ensued, and we reached the junction with the Robbins Branch trail less than an hour later. From there, we’d complete a loop of about 6 miles before returning on the Thornburg Trail to the trailhead.
We did the loop counter-clockwise, and before long reached an unmarked junction with the Hannah Creek Trail. We followed this path to a small campsite near the creek, where we stopped for lunch. Afterwards, we continued over some minor climbs and descents and arrived at another campsite at an old home site. A stone chimney still stands, though no other signs of the home were apparent.
Not far from the home site we headed north on the Birkhead Trail. This path leads along a ridge, passing a couple of additional campsites along the way. We reached the side trail to Camp 3, but decided against adding another 2 ½ miles to the hike. Instead we continued ahead to a junction with the other end of the Robbins Branch Trail. We followed this path back along the stream, which was almost dry due to the recent drought. We made it back to the Thornburg Trail, and returned to the cars by 3:40, well ahead of the rain to come.
It had been a pleasant hike through a forest largely consisting of hardwoods. Surprisingly, there was still some fall color to be seen, although most of the leaves were already on the ground. This would’ve been a colorful hike a week or two earlier. The hike provided some decent exercise, between the 10 miles of walking and the obstacles presented by many fallen trees. Best of all, we saw only 5 other people during the hike. The solitude gave us the chance to catch up with each other, since we hadn’t all hiked together since June. Hopefully we’ll all get together for a hike again before next April!
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